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Lipinski, Schneider, Durbin, Duckworth Urge Federal Nationwide Ethylene Oxide Study

Today, U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL-03) and U.S. Senators. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) led a letter urging the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) to conduct a nationwide exposure assessment on ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions.

When complete, the requested study would provide the public with valuable information about their community’s level of exposure to EtO and would advance our understanding how widespread a public health issue EtO emissions are.

“We know from the National Air Toxics Assessment that there are multiple areas around the country with unacceptably high predicted cancer risk due to EtO emissions.  We therefore ask that ATSDR work in a transparent and publicly accountable manner with EPA to immediately conduct a nationwide study of EtO exposure in communities with elevated levels of EtO emissions, as well as communities known to have been exposed to high levels of EtO emissions in the past,” write the letter signers.

The letter specifically requests that the national assessment include affected communities in Lake County, Illinois. We know from the National Air Toxics Assessment that facilities in these communities emit EtO, and the public deserves to know more about emissions in their backyard.

The Members of Congress also praised the work of local and state agencies to conduct cancer incidence studies around EtO-emitting facilities, such as work by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in Willowbrook, and request that “ATSDR serve as a resource for IDPH and any other state or local agencies nationwide that opt to conduct such a study relating to EtO.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal public health agency within Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL-11), Sean Casten (D-IL-06), Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Susan Wild (D-PA-07), Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24), and Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08).

A signed copy of the letter is available online.